Cal Poly Credit Union Receives National Award

By Sarita Chandanani

Often the Cal Poly Federal Credit Union goes unnoticed by
students as they enter the Bronco Student Center, but the credit
union has not missed out on any recognition.

Staffed by only five employees, the CPFCU has become a major
fixture in the financial circles of Cal Poly, winning the 2006
National Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award for the second
consecutive year.

In collaboration with Orientation Services and the Office of
Financial Aid, the CPFCU has taken the initiative to educate more
than 9,000 incoming freshman and transfer students as well as 2,000
parents annually on the importance of good credit and setting
savings goals.

“We try to give the students what they want to hear as well as
what they need to hear about financial stability,” said Barbara
Argo, chief executive officer of the CPFCU. “Most students are
unaware of the fact that some employers actually take their
prospective employees FICO score into consideration before hiring

The credit union offers pamphlets with valuable financial
literature as well as an orientation packet so new students have
information about obtaining and keeping good credit scores. These
help students make informed decisions about the direction they want
their credit to go in before they are confronted by credit card

“If more students knew about that, then maybe they would take
having good credit more seriously,” said Argo. “I believe that
educating students on financial matters is as important as any
other study here on campus and that is why my staff works so hard
on getting our message across campus.”

Many students are unaware of the opportunities that lie within
the credit union. Since they are non-profit, all income earned by
the credit union goes back to its members in the form of discounts
larger than major banking chains can provide, such as providing
free checking and discounts for loans and lines of credit. The
credit union has 3,800 customers, more than half of which are

“I initially joined because it was convenient for me, later I
learned that my friends also banked with the credit union. I think
it’s cool that they won an award and I would definitely recommend
them to a friend,” said Sally Butterworth.

The CPFCU has also built a Web site that educates consumers with
calculators that range from auto loan calculators that show payment
plans to calculators that allow a consumer to see how much they
could save by spending a little less each year. Many staff and
faculty members also take advantage of the credit union since they
get free checking with direct deposit.

“We’ve been members for eight years and are very happy with the
credit union. We love it and the people here are great. We are so
proud that they won an award and we would definitely recommend this
credit union to our friends,” said Professor Lina Neto and Elaine
Cortez, who work at the Children’s Center.

The CPFCU is a member of the National Credit Union
Administration and the governmental equivalent of the Federal
Department Insurance Corporation.

Sarita Chandanani can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

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